Best Video Doorbells of 2020
We've tried and tested dozens of video doorbells, and these options are the cream of the crop.
Best No Contract
SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro
Comparison of the Best Video Doorbells
A Detailed List of the Best Doorbell Cameras
1. Ring - Best Doorbell Camera Overall
High quality hardware, cheap video storage, and the best Amazon Alexa integrationLearn more about Ring Doorbell
We thought the Ring Video Doorbell 2 was the best doorbell camera overall. It was priced competitively at $199, and video storage was a bargain at just $3 per month or $30 per year. This model was a best seller because it was feature-rich, well-made, and compatible with anyone’s house or apartment. While we used it wirelessly, we also had the option to hardwire it.
Backed with lifetime theft protection, we agreed it would be silly for someone to steal. It was motion-activated to record crisp video in any light, and audio was clear with ambient noise automatically filtered out. The footage was streamed to our mobile devices and/or desktop computer.
Ring video doorbells worked independently or when integrated with various home security systems. Ring Alarm security systems were popular because of their Amazon Alexa integration: with Alexa voice commands, we controlled our video doorbell, door locks, lamps, and more.
What We Liked
- 1080p HD video quality
- Easy DIY installation
- Two-way audio feature
- Custom motion sensing
What We Didn’t Like
- Some Ring cams were too bulky
- Premium doorbell cams were pricey
- Ring Pro cam required hardwiring
- False alarms happened frequently
In part, we monitored our Ring doorbell without paid service. The free app for mobile phones and desktop computers alerted us when someone rang the bell or motion was detected. We viewed our live video and interacted with the system’s two-way voice feature.
To save video, we needed a paid plan for DIY or professional monitoring. With either plan, our video clips were saved for 60 days each.
- Protect Basic: The Protect Basic plan gave us storage for just $3 per month or $30 per year with a 12-month service agreement. We were excited to score such an industry-leading bargain.
- Protect Plus: Another great value deal, the Protect Plus plan added professional monitoring and covered all our devices for just $10 per month or $100 for a year.
As mentioned above, the Ring Video Doorbell 2 worked wirelessly (running on battery power) or could be hardwired.
The wireless setup was straightforward and took us about five minutes. The wireless option was low-maintenance, too, as the battery held power for years on each charge.
For hardwiring, the doorbell required a minimum of 16V. The Ring website explained how to install the doorbell with a new transformer or power adapter if needed.
Ring led the video doorbell industry, and their Video Doorbell 2 was a best seller for its “compatible anywhere” setup and great mix of features. We watched our live feed for free, and storage only cost us $3 per month.
Along with great hardware, we also selected an excellent deal on professional monitoring (just $10 per month). With everything included, our complete Ring Alarm set provided home security, environmental protection, and home automation.
2. SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro - Best No Contract Option
High-quality hardware at a low price; worked alone or with a larger SimpliSafe security system
The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro ($169) was created to compete with Ring and Nest doorbells. Our equipment with SimpliSafe cost less than with other brands but had similar features such as a wide-angle lens, pan and zoom, and two-way voice. In some ways, the SimpliSafe doorbell had an edge. In others, it had some room for improvement. All in all, we decided it was one of the best choices for people seeking affordable home security without a contract.
Our Video Doorbell Pro, like others, served as a mini video security system. Working alone, a built-in motion detector triggered it. When we connected it to a larger SimpliSafe home security system, it responded to other sensors too. For instance, if our glass break sensor was triggered, the doorbell camera automatically started recording.
What We Liked
- Crisp and clear 1080p video quality
- Smart sensors reduced false alarms
- Surprisingly affordable options
- Simple DIY setup and easy to use
What We Didn’t Like
- No third-party automation integrations
- Required wiring, no battery-operated options
- Video recording required subscription
- Did not have voice recognition
Motion detection with the SimpliSafe doorbell was remarkably high quality. It virtually eliminated false positives with heat detection, whereas a bird or falling tree branch may have triggered lesser cameras.
HDR imaging made SimpliSafe an especially useful daytime camera. HDR (high dynamic range) counteracted bright light, reducing the sunny glare that was common with other video doorbells. It significantly extended the camera’s coverage. For instance, our camera caught action far away in the street, but with the glare, we could only see a few feet. Nest had doorbells with HDR as well, and the anti-glare technology was included on some, but not all, Ring doorbells.
The night vision on SimpliSafe’s doorbell was not so cutting-edge. With infrared, we got the benefit of crisp black-and-white video, which certainly had its own value. However, with SkyBell or August, we got full-color recording 24 hours per day. With Nest or Ring cameras, a low-light sensor supported color video for more time each day than SimpliSafe’s devices did.
Without signing a contract, we remotely controlled a SimpliSafe doorbell and an entire home security system for $24.99 per month. This optional plan also added professional 24/7 security monitoring, and SimpliSafe automatically called emergency responders if our system was breached. Additionally, this top-tier plan let us automate our home’s door locks, lights, and thermostat via the SimpliSafe mobile app.
A cheaper option we considered was paying $14.99 per month. However, that plan did not include remote control or professional monitoring. Thirty days of cloud video storage for one doorbell camera cost us $4.99. Alternatively, we could have stored video from unlimited SimpliSafe cameras for $9.99 per month total.
While most of our SimpliSafe equipment was wireless, the Video Doorbell Pro needed to be hardwired. It worked with old and new homes’ electrical systems and replaced wired doorbells from 8V to 24V. Do-it-yourself installation for the Video Doorbell Pro took about 30 minutes and required no tools, other than our handy Phillips screwdriver.
Multiple interchangeable faceplates in obsidian, cloud, and jade (aka black, white, and green) were also available.
All in all, the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro was our selection for best no-contract doorbell for home security. It compared favorably with Google Nest Hello doorbells ($229) and Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro ($249). We had the option to add professional emergency monitoring to our plan for less than $1 per day. SimpliSafe let us try their equipment risk-free. If we wanted to return the doorbell, we could have just called SimpliSafe within 60 days of our product’s arrival and arranged for free return shipping.
3. Nest Hello - Best Google Home Integration
A smart doorbell with facial recognition and the industry’s best Google Home integration
Our Nest Hello video doorbell ($229) worked alone or with a multi-part Nest system for home security, environmental monitoring, and home automation. It had one primary advantage over competitors —Nest products had the best Google Home integration available. For instance, with Google Assistant voice commands easily streamed doorbell video to a Nest hub or Chromecast TV screen.
Beyond the Google Home compatibility, Nest Hello had all the smart doorbell features shoppers expected in 2019: a wide viewing angle, crisp night vision, two-way voice, and more. It also had less common features, such as facial recognition and the ability to play customized messages.
What We Liked
- Innovative facial recognition feature
- Oversized viewing screen for full picture
- Worked seamlessly with Google and Nest products
- Users set custom home and away rules
What We Didn’t Like
- Tricky to install and setup
- Subscription required to store video
- Relatively expensive device
- Required chime box to function
Unlike the SimpliSafe and Ring doorbells above, Nest Hello streamed video 24/7 (not only when triggered by motion). If we’d wanted, we could have scanned through an entire 30 days of footage history. For our convenience three-hour snapshot histories were also stored, allowing for quick review. Our research told us that was the most generous video storage available, which made sense with Google owning Nest.
If we wanted a break from DIY monitoring, Quiet Mode let us disable the alert chime. Meanwhile, facial recognition let the doorbell camera recognize familiar faces. Through a combination of facial recognition and Quiet Mode we were able to leave specific, pre-recorded messages for each known visitor!
Nest Hello required hardwiring. Since our unit replaced an existing bell with transformer 16 and 24V, we used the existing wiring and transformer without any modifications. The company told us that if we didn’t already have a doorbell installed or our existing unit included a different transformer, we could use a power adapter. If this was the case, they suggested we use their referral for a pro installation by an electrician.
For DIY monitoring, Nest gave us free access to live video and basic notifications, plus, we got to view snapshots triggered by motion detection for up to three hours in the past. To stream old video, save a new video, or get advanced notifications, we needed a paid subscription. Pricing was also attractive at just $10 per month or $100 for a prepaid year. Nest Hello was sold by Google and also came with theft protection and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Professional monitoring was available month-to-month for $29 through Nest Secure. Nest Secure helped guard our home against crime, protect us from fire, support home automation, and more. Emergency monitoring was provided in partnership with Brinks, a home security company known for its quick response.
We concluded Nest Hello was the best doorbell camera for a Google-friendly home. Just by speaking, we sent its footage to our tablets, TVs, and other screens. Facial recognition and the option to customize messages also made this unit stand out.
4. SkyBell HD - Best Field of View
The hardiest video doorbell for extreme climates, and records color video in any lightLearn more about SkyBell
SkyBell HD was a reasonably-priced doorbell camera ($199) with free video storage (seven days per clip) and doorbell theft replacement. This camera took our award for the best field of view thanks to a 180-degree lens with minimal fisheye effect. SkyBell HD recorded color video at night. The video was recorded when motion was detected. Plus, we got to snap pictures whenever we wanted by pressing a button in the SkyBell app.
This smart doorbell needed to be hardwired. That might be a turnoff for some people, as it was initially to us. However, SkyBell HD’s installation was uncomplicated and didn’t require any special skills. We were also very impressed by the SkyBell HD’s temperature range. We wanted a device that could withstand extreme heat and cold, so the SkyBell was a perfect fit, as it worked in weather as cold as -40 degrees and as hot as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. For comparison, consider that the best-selling wireless Ring video doorbell was only guaranteed from -5 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. From Arizona to Alaska, SkyBell may be best.
What We Liked
- Remote two-way communication
- Simple DIY installation and setup
- Attractive design and aesthetic
- Provided 1080p HD video quality
What We Didn’t Like
- Limited equipment options
- Sometimes difficult to install
- Relatively pricey up-front cost
- Customer service wasn’t great
The specs list was impressive! A 180-degree field of view was rare, and SkyBell pulled it off with minimal fisheye distortion.
This doorbell camera was especially effective for nighttime recording. Unlike some cameras, however, it didn’t have HDR to reduce daytime glare.
In contrast to the SimpliSafe doorbell, SkyBell HD was not designed for direct integration with a full system, so the company did not produce window sensors, glass break sensors or other security equipment.
We installed our SkyBell HD over existing wiring for a mechanical doorbell (but it would have worked over a digital one too). Designed to work on 10-36VAC setup, the SkyBell HD’s detailed specs were published on the SkyBell website.
Most SkyBell customers monitored their doorbells entirely on their own with a free app. SkyBell didn’t have a professional monitoring service, and they didn’t sell any other security equipment than doorbell cameras. However, as SkyBell HD owners, we added our doorbell to a full security system in partnership with Honeywell, Monitronics, and Alarm.com.
The SkyBell HD was an attractive stand-alone option for do-it-yourself home security. It provided more coverage than its leading competitors and recorded color video regardless of ambient light. At just $199 plus free video storage, SkyBell’s price was hard to beat.
5. August Doorbell Cam - Most Affordable Monthly Plan
Ultra high-resolution doorbell camera with a floodlight for nighttime color video surveillanceLearn More about August Doorbell
The August Doorbell Cam Pro was a hardwired home security solution that captured color video by day or night. While the Skybell HD (above) had color night vision, the August doorbell activated a floodlight to allow color recordings at night. HDR wasn’t included, but video was ultra high-res as listed below.
What We Liked
- Impressive live-streaming via mobile app
- Integrated with third-party platforms
- HindSight feature recorded before activity occurred
- Built-in floodlight for low-light conditions
What We Didn’t Like
- Monthly cloud storage was often pricey
- Relatively bulky design and construction
- Customer support needed work
- Users must have a mechanical chime
Along with its floodlight feature, the doorbell camera was impressive for its high pixel count. It provided us about 33 percent more detail than the typical high-quality doorbell camera for 2019.
The August Doorbell Cam Pro worked with existing wiring to replace a mechanical chime doorbell. It ran off 12-24VAC. Setup was simple and for many homes, the only tool required was a Phillips screwdriver. Mounting brackets were also provided.
Without a subscription, we received previews of all activity at our door. For a payment of just $2.99 per month, we saved video clips for 15 days each. A $4.99 per month fee allowed us to save video for 30 days.
Equipped with a floodlight, the Doorbell Cam Pro recorded especially high-resolution security video by day or night. It had a narrower lens than the other cameras in this review, but 120 degrees was ample for the typical home. In our opinion, August’s $2.99 per month plan for 15 days of video storage was among the best deals in home security.
By remotely responding to visitors at our front door via our video doorbell, we prevented robberies at our home because no matter where we were, playing video games upstairs or on a business trip in Taiwan, we always seemed like we’re home.
This was only one of the many reasons we were passionate about video doorbells. When we heard we were responsible for selecting the best video doorbells of 2020, we were honored and eager to get started. Keep reading to find out which video doorbells made the list and what features got them there.
|Ring Video Doorbell 2||$169|
|SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro||$169|
|August Doorbell Cam||$199|
The most expensive of our selections for top video doorbells of 2020 was the Nest Hello, which was priced at $229. We thought this was slightly overpriced, especially since it didn’t have person detection. However, that cost made more sense when we considered its impressive AI capabilities. Tied in cost at $199 was SkyBell HD and the August Doorbell Cam. The most affordable video doorbells among our top contenders were Ring Video Doorbell 2 and the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, costing $169.
Video Doorbell Methodology
What qualities did we look for in a video doorbell, and how did we know if something was up to par? In this section, we discussed how we chose the best video doorbells of 2020.
We knew our doorbell was one of the first things visitors saw at our home, so it was important to us that we liked the aesthetics as well as technology. The next thing we looked for was durability. We wanted to know each video doorbell’s temperature range and then make sure that it didn’t get any hotter or colder than where we lived. Sometimes, IP ratings were also available. Those were very helpful in giving us an idea about how resistant it was to water.
|1||A large body surface like the back of a hand, but no intentional contact with a body part||Dripping water falling vertically|
|2||Fingers or similar objects||Dripping water falling from 15 degree tilt|
|3||Tools, thick wires, etc.||Spraying water|
|4||Most wires, screws, etc.||Splashing water|
|5||Dust protected||Water jets 6.3mm & below|
|6||Dust tight||Powerful water jets 12.5mm & below|
|7||N/A||Immersion up to 1m|
|8||N/A||Immersion over 1m|
The next factor we wanted to consider was whether the video doorbell was battery-powered or needed to be wired into our home. While hardwiring was certainly a more complicated process, we liked that we wouldn’t have to worry about changing the batteries if we went that route. If our video doorbell was battery-powered, we wanted to be sure the battery life was six months or longer. We also preferred devices that notified us if the battery was low.
We liked to learn about the circumstances that triggered the camera to record, which was typically either when it sensed motion or people, or when the doorbell was pressed. Sometimes there was also an option for 24/7 continuous recording.
Of course, the main feature of any video doorbell was its camera, and we were sticklers for our necessary features test. In this section, we reviewed the cameras in terms of technical specifications as well as our own experience using them, judging them based on their video, audio, night vision, storage, smart platform integrations, and artificial intelligence capabilities. Keep reading for more detail about each.
1080p HD was the industry standard for security camera video display during this review. We also looked for fields of view that were 120 degrees or wider. Finally, it was nice if the camera could zoom optically or digitally, although it wasn’t a deal-breaker if it couldn’t.
All of the video doorbells we reviewed had built-in speakers and microphones which enabled two-way audio. Two-way audio meant that we could actually speak to whoever was in front of our doorbell camera, whether we were in the house or across the world. This was a key feature of video doorbells.
We preferred infrared night vision over color night vision from bright white light because it was way less conspicuous. LED sensors were hardly noticeable, and if we were recording an intruder at night, we wanted to make sure they didn’t know. Most video doorbells had infrared night vision. The strength of LED vision depended on its amount of LED sensors, but there were no hard and fast rules.
There were a number of reasons to store our recorded footage. If we had an intrusion, we wanted some footage to show to the police. Sometimes, we liked to store footage for sentimental reasons, like when we brought our dog home for the first time. Whatever reason, we always backed up our footage in two ways, locally on a hard drive or device, as well as on the cloud.
During our video doorbell evaluations, different companies really differed when it came to local and cloud storage. We’d seen both offered for free as well as neither offered for free. We’d also seen 60 days of cloud storage offered for $3 per month and 30 days of cloud storage offered for $30 per month, so there was a huge variance.
The point was, storage was something we took very seriously and factored into the overall cost when choosing a video doorbell.
Smart Platform Integration
We knew we wanted to purchase a video doorbell that integrated with the same smart home system we did. For us, that was either Amazon or Google. That way, we were able to control our doorbell camera, hands-free!
Artificial intelligence was key when it came to video doorbells. They all worked through motion detection; when they detected motion, we received a mobile notification. But a lot of motion detected usually wasn’t from people but other moving objects. For example, we had some energetic squirrels along with some annoying street racers we’d see now and then. That’s where AI came in handy. Person detection differentiated between people and other moving objects, while facial recognition told us exactly who was at our front door. Unfortunately, the majority of video doorbells we reviewed didn’t have any AI capabilities, but it was a huge advantage in giving us smarter, more specific notifications.
Depending on our video doorbell design, we either hardwired it into our home or operated it by batteries. It was always important to make sure that our home matched the video doorbell’s requirements before buying it. For example, some video doorbells required an existing doorbell setup while some didn’t. If we didn’t feel confident in hardwiring or otherwise installing our video doorbell, we hired a professional. Doing so usually cost us $100 or more, but at least in those cases, we knew it was done correctly. The cheaper option, of course, was DIY installation, so we always made sure we knew what we were getting into before we purchased a video doorbell.
Finally, the app we used to control the video doorbell and its storage needed to be highly rated on either the Apple or Google Play store, depending on our mobile device. We preferred ratings of three stars and above and made sure to check out the most recent reviews to see the most current updates.
Video Doorbell FAQs
- Which is the best video doorbell?
Through our research, we’ve found the Ring Video Doorbell, SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, Nest Hello, SkyBell HD, and August Doorbell Cam to be some of the best video doorbells.
- Is there a monthly charge for Ring doorbell cameras?
Ring does not require monthly fees for its video doorbells. However, we recommend signing up and paying for a Ring Protect plan to get additional cloud storage, professional monitoring, cellular backup, or other features.
- How does a video doorbell work?
Video doorbells connect to a mobile application so we can see and speak to whoever’s at our front door from anywhere in the world. The camera comes with a speaker and microphone so we can have two-way conversations. Many video doorbells are motion-activated, notifying us whenever they detect motion, and some can even differentiate between people and other moving objects to make our notifications more relevant.